Taylor Lautner is NOT “Out & Proud” and DOES NOT have a People Magazine cover story claiming so.

The “Twilight” star unfortunately fell victim to Internet pranksters who thought it would be funny to Photoshop his picture into a phony People Magazine cover with the headline: “Taylor Lautner: Out & Proud.”

“Tired of rumors, the Twilight star opens up about his decision to finally come out,” the faux cover, dated January 7th 2012, read, quoting Lautner as saying, “I’m more liberated, and happier than I’ve ever been.”

Due to Lautner’s fame and the fact that “Twilight” is the hottest thing out right now, the cover quickly went viral and had a lot of people seriously believing that the actor was gay and had a big cover story to match. (Even though there was no link to ANY article on People.com)

The cover looked so real that even Russell Simmons fell for it, tweeting, “proud of Taylor Lautner for his bravery and courage.” After he found out the cover was a fake, he deleted his original tweet and quickly followed up with another one: “Disappointed that people would joke about someone coming out about their sexuality. Let Taylor Lautner be whoever he wants to be.”

A rep for People Magazine confirmed to Gossip Cop that the cover is “absolutely fake” and was the work of a clever graphic artist.

But not “that” clever.

Gossip Cop points out that the blue sidebar (on the right, under “Exclusive Photos!”) was jacked from a May 2006 People cover. And if you really look at it, you see a sub-headline that reads “Brad & Angelina in Africa.”

Brad Pitt does not look like that anymore, and neither does now 6-year-old Zahara. In that picture, taken in 2006 when Brad and Angelina Jolie adopted Zahara, she is only 1 years old and Brad’s head is shaved.

Still, the fact that even Russell Simmons thought the cover was real, and even tweeted it about it to his 1.1 million followers, proves that the majority of people are pretty gullible and will basically believe anything you tell them without researching the facts for themselves first.

Google does exist for a reason folks…